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Photographing Shadows Creatively

Updated on April 11, 2014
Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0)
Attribution 2.0 Generic (CC BY 2.0) | Source

Talk about a fun photographic project that is as much fun for the photographer as it is for the audience.

Although you need a digital editing program to complete the project all else that is needed are some models and some shadows.

As you will see the project entails capturing two images; one of the subject and one of its shadow. The project works well if you are using one main subject and one main shadow but it is also adaptable to be done with many subjects at once.

For example let's say that you have a man walking on the sidewalk and he could be considered to be a handsome man, and going in the opposite directions is a rather attractive lady, they pass each other without so much as a glance from either of them, but then you see their shadows turning around and checking each other out.

That is why you need a digital program. You need to combine both sets into one main image using the layers tools option in the digital program.

And off course you can use almost any subject imaginable so long as you can manipulate its shadows. Another popular theme is to do a project based on kid's distaste for vegetables. You can take a photo of a child with his eyes closed as if he were about to be given a spoonful of ice cream while the shadows tell a different story; that of a big broccoli sprout about to be fed to the child.

Animals can also be part of the shoot as you can use shadows that may depict their "desires" to be something else, like a small puppy with its shadow of a wolf or a kitty cat with a tiger's shadow. Maybe even an animal who wants to be something else?

You shadows can be playful too. Let's say that you take a photo of an elderly couple or a person who us wearing a cast of a leg, the shadows could be of the couple dancing or the guy with the cast paying basketball.

Whatever subjects used approach the shoot from a whimsical point of view as this theme is generally done. This does not mean that you should throw caution to the wind, like all your photography adventures be as technically sound as possible.

Do not rely on capturing images of shadows created by your subject, There are digital programs that you can use to get shadows from and just add them digitally or you can make cut outs, photograph their shadows and do some digital manipulation to make them life size and fit them to the live subject.

One of the key points that you must keep in mind is that the shadows must match the subjects, especially where the subject's feet ends and the shadow begins. This is not crucial if you crop them or choose not to include the bottom parts of the subject but it does make the illusion that much more believable if you do.

CC BY-ND 2.0
CC BY-ND 2.0 | Source

The project is really not meant for any commercial purpose other than to be featured in photographic publications focusing on creative ways to apply the art of photography and for use as another way to practice your skills.

However many astute photographers have incorporated these types of photos into web sites, blogs, books and general photographic articles.

Plan some of your shots but also be attentive to found opportunities. At least focus on getting images of real subjects and then worry about digitally incorporating the corresponding matching shadows.

The key as it is with many artistic ventures and most things in life, is to be creative and use all the tools at your disposal and use your imagination to make the best shadow images that you can.

Learn to use your digital program well so that you can manipulate the photographs with ease and make the project that much enjoyable. So have fun with yet another creative way to use your photographic skills.

© 2013 Luis E Gonzalez


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    • LuisEGonzalez profile image

      Luis E Gonzalez 4 years ago from Miami, Florida

      Fossillady: Thank you

    • Fossillady profile image

      Kathi 4 years ago from Saugatuck Michigan

      Those examples are so cool!